Visualising Research: Ethnographic Comics as a Relevant Language for Interdisciplinary Scientific Communication


The paper explores the possibilities of comics as a tool for scientific communication used in ethnographic expeditions of the Arctic Design School (ADS). The work contributes to the discussion on the scientific comics as a tool for inclusive representation of the process and results of research work and as a direction for expanding the set of competencies of the contemporary researcher. Theoretically, we draw on Galman (2009), Wadle (2012), and Kuschnir (2016), emphasizing that the language of drawings and comics promotes an ethnographic method of research and amplifies its impact by including a wider range of stakeholders, usually excluded from the research discourse. Also, this data representation allows an array of visual data obtained during fieldwork while preserving the anonymity of informants and protecting their privacy, which has long been among critical concerns in anthropology and related disciplines and design studies. Based on two ADS expeditions, we present all stages of developing scientific/ethnographic comics: from collecting and initially processing visual data to choosing a relevant graphic style, selecting excerpts from interviews and constructing mise-en-scenes. We conclude with a discussion of how the “visual turn” to the representation of research results becomes a full-fledged alternative to the traditional - verbal - methods of scientific communication. The combination of visual images and text can be seen as a combination of equivalent “partners” that allows researchers to combine both forms productively. We also discuss the limitations of using the comic strip as a media technology containing specific ways of “embodying” and conveying the meanings.


Alexandra Raeva
Junior Researcher, Arctic Design Lab, Ural Federal University, Russian Federation


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Visual Design


Design ethnography, Visual data, Comics

Digital Media

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